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We were so saddened to hear the news that Sam Beall, the proprietor of Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee, passed away last night in a skiing accident, leaving behind his wife and five children. Few things are as tragic as learning that a life has been lost far too soon, but Beall and Blackberry are both unforgettable.
As anyone who's set foot on Blackberry Farm knows, it is a fairytale place—the embodiment of respite and idyll set on 4,000 acres in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. Beall was born there, as it was originally his parents' business before he took over, and is attributed with growing Blackberry into a place so profoundly inviting that there are no more accolades for it to win.
Beall's employees bubble over in praise of him—even to guests, as our Director of Events Francesca Andreani recalls from a recent visit: "We went truffle hunting and the director told us the whole story about how Sam started that program; he raved about him the whole time.
Anyone who met him understood why.
"He greeted me and spoke to me like I was a relative he hadn’t seen in a few years," remembers our Managing Editor Kenzi Wilbur, who met him during a visit to Blackberry last year. "It was sort of astounding... It took me less than ten seconds, about the duration of our conversation, to understand why he was running one of the most successful hospitality businesses in the country."
Beall was more than a proprietor; he was as hospitable as the nature of his business, and we know we are among countless who are thankful for what he accomplished in his life.
We invite you to leave a story or a note in the comments if you've ever visited Blackberry or crossed paths with Sam Beall.